If you look back through my archives you’ll find an article about what I would do if I were ever hosting an open mic and surprisingly I think I held true to those ideas (ok, the star idea was really lame).
- The sign up sheet should be available well before the show starts. Ideally the open mic has an Internet sign up, but I understand why venues want the people to come out in person.
- The host should always be on time (20-30 minutes before the advertised start time). This prevents anything from slowing down the start of the night.
- The host should play no more than the other performers and should either go on first, last, or not at all. When the host treats the open mic as a weekly gig, don’t be surprised if people don’t show up to do his sound check.
- The host should make sure performers know when they are going on. Many hosts do not do this enough and it creates a show where you hear a lot of tuning and stage preperation. This also includes the host asking what the performer needs (sitting or standing? Does his guitar plug in or need to be miked?).
- The host should make sure the performers know how long they can play. I have been to open mics where they would have limited Bob Dylan to two songs but let your average teenager playing Indigo Girls covers railroad the host into playing three.
- The host should encourage the crowd to support the performers. Jason Wheatley @ the Living Room does this better than any host I’ve ever seen.
1. Ben Garvey – I soundchecked with Beck’s “Jackass,” and then played “The Genius of it All,” “I Hope I Die on the Moon,” and finished the night with “99%”
2. Keenan – 7 year old Keenan followed up his hit song, I Have More Stuff Than You, with You Have More Stuff Than Me. He also sang an insane song called Pitter Pat. He’s one of the most adventurous performers at the open mic.
3. John & Nora Shaughnessy – Nora backed her dad up on the first song and then John played “Cigarettes Will Kill You (If I Don’t Kill You First),” which is a great title for a song.
4. Pat Hipp – Somehow Pat resisted the urge to play the Thong Song to a room full of teenage kids. Instead he played two good covers and I think one was by Bob Dylan, but I could be wrong. I like Pat’s music and I was glad he made it out.
5. Jeff Richie – A good songwriter and always seems to bring out new material when he comes by. Jeff is a really nice guy and I wish him the best of luck up in Boston.
6. Bob Michel – I’d like to thank Bob for coming out to the open mic a zillion times. He dedicated a song to June Carter Cash’s mother.
7. Kristin – When open mic poetry is good, it’s good. When it’s bad, it’s really bad. Kristin’s stuff was great. Her poems are interesting and thoughtful and she has a good grasp on how long her poems should be. None seemed to overstay their welcome and they all kept my interest.
8. Willie Tapps – If Bob has been to the open mic a zillion times, then Willie has been there 10 zillion times. He’s been coming nearly every week since I started hanging out there once and a while in 2001 and probably long before that. Willie’s a great musician and a nice guy. He played one of his best songs, one he wrote for his wife.
9. Ted Novak, Brother of Todd – The singer from this band, Colin, emailed me a few days before the open mic and asked if he could bring in drums. At first I was against the idea, because it’s usually a complete pain in the ass.
I eventually decided to let them go ahead because they said they’d setup and take down the drums quickly and bring about 50 people with them. I think every senior from Holy Cross high school was there. The place was packed and I’ve only seen it that crowded one other time. Ted Novak, Brother of Todd played a few emo-rockish songs to the crowd and they were pretty good. As musicians they were tighter than I expected. I probably could have done without the “King of Wishful Thinking” cover at the end, but the crowd loved it.
My absolute favorite thing about the band was that the drummer wore a pale blue tux he bought on eBay for $100. He told me he wore it to the prom and was going to wear it the first day of college. Iin high school my old band played in the Shawnee Battle of the Bands right before my Junior Prom, so I wore my tux to the gig. I think we sucked. Ted Novak, Brother of Todd didn’t.
10. Adrien Reju – Adrien is one of my favorite all time singer-songwriters and a great friend. I was a fan from the first time I heard her play at the Tree House (then the Living Room). I’ve seen her play so many times and she’s still getting better. She played Why while the band was still breaking down their equipment and probably kept a lot of people around. She then played an awesome cover of “Walk like an Egyptian” by the Bangles. Lastly, at my request she played Kaleidoscope.
11. The Forest Greens – I wasn’t there the week that Eric and Mike first came to the Tree House, but when I came back everyone was talking about the high school kids playing celt-rock or whatever you want to call their music. As good as they were, the recent addition of Ellen was made the band dramatically better with her playing and her dancing. They had some kind words for me, too, and I appreciate it!
12. Pat Rich – Pat used to come around once and a while and he stopped in to play some Dashboard covers (I think).
13. Steve Scovial – Steve’s guitar had a custom paint job that he did himself. He did a cover of Sour Girl by STP.
14. Wideman – The Wideman did some finger picking on my guitar.
15. John Corcoran – Did an extra long version of Piano Man and Roz helped a bit on the words. I like his cover of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold.”
16. Roz King – Roz was a great help when I started hosting the open mic. He busted his ass to get the Tree House’s sound setup and probably didn’t get appreciated enough for it. His help has enabled the Tree House to keep their music scene going all this time, whether it be with sound, hosting the open mic, etc. He’s a great musician and that night he did his cover of “1952 Vincent Black Lightning.”
17. Jason Wheatley – Jason was the open mic host before Roz and I hosted and it’s because of his work back then that a lot of people still hang out there. In my opinion he was the best host of any open mic I’ve been to, so I was glad he squeezed out of the Olive quick enough to stop by the Tree House. He played a new song titled something like “Won’t Go Gently.”
Some shots of Rob and the audience.